Last Updated: Mar 24, 2017 Want your business to succeed? The first step is to decide what your business goals are and work from there. Here’s why goals are so important.
Business leaders of all stripes like to talk about goals and strategies. But there’s more to success than simply throwing a few buzzwords around. It helps to know what they mean and how they play off of each other to lead to the final result.
The Real Definition of ‘Goal’
Goals are typically understood to mean a desired end result, but they’re actually more than that. A true goal is one with a deadline. Here are two examples of positive-minded goals one might encounter in a business plan:
You should notice that these two attempts at writing a goal are similar but not identical. In the first case, the writer failed to give the goal a deadline. This is a crucial feature of a goal. If you don’t set a deadline, then all you have is a wish. Give it a deadline and your wish turns into a goal.
The second goal has another thing going for it that the first one doesn’t have. It’s a bit more specific. Instead of ambiguously striving to be the “leader”, this company wants to be the leader in sales revenue. So when you write out your company goals, make sure you give them a deadline, and make them specific enough that you can measure them.
What Constitutes a Business Strategy?
A business strategy is the path you take to achieve your goal.
So you want to spend the next five years making yourself the best-selling robotic Valentine gifts company. But how will you do that, exactly? However you decide to pursue that goal, that’s your strategy.
Perhaps you’ve decided the best way to sell your robotic Valentine gifts is to demonstrate their ability to woo a love interest. So your strategy might say something along the lines of “persuade consumers that Company X’s line of robotic Valentine gifts is romantic, easily programmable, and fully autonomous”.
That’s an awesome strategy, but that alone won’t get you from Point A to Point B. You need some objectives.
Objectives are mini-goals. They are smaller, vital steps to reaching your ultimate goal along the path of your stated business strategy. In other words, to determine what your business objectives are, you must commit your company to your strategy. A full commitment will focus on objectives.
Looking at the above-stated strategy, what kind of objectives could Company X use to follow the stated path? Here are three potential objectives:
See how each of those objectives have deadlines and are specific and measurable? This is so you can benchmark your way to success as you measure each objective on your path to strategic success. But each objective must be pursued through successful implementation of tactics.
In Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey 2001, HAL 9000, the artificial intelligence computer aboard the Discovery 1 spaceship, goes haywire and wreaks havoc on the spaceship’s crew when he malfunctions. Perhaps Hal would not have acted so erratically if he had defined his objectives a bit more clearly.
Let Your Tactics Push You Toward Your Goal
The key to successfully achieving your goal is to follow the strategic path you’ve outlined by striving for well-defined objectives that you work toward through tactical operations. In other words, you reach your objectives by focusing on implementing your tactics. So define what those are based on what makes sense for each objective.
For instance, to increase customer retention by 60% by the end of this year you can increase your inbound call center response rate by implementing a new call routing system. Perhaps you might also decide to embark on a new social media initiative where you utilize Twitter as a customer service tool designed to shorten your customer response rate. There are two tactics that are relatively easy to achieve and are defined well enough that you can measure their success post-implementation.
Ultimately, your company’s success depends on how well you execute your tactics, but if those tactics aren’t written with your objectives in mind, then you’ll go off course. Your objectives, of course, are defined by your strategy, which is determined by your goal. If you backward plan your success, you are more likely to achieve it. Look at your end goal first and then decide how you’ll get there.
Last Updated: Feb 12, 2015 Helping employees under you reach their potential is an important part of your job as a manager. The best way to do that is by mentoring them. In this excerpt from 9 Powerful Practices of Really Great Mentors, learn about the basics of mentoring.
When you choose to become a support-providing helper to another person—as a mentor is—you will need to develop and apply skills that are so common to effective teachers, advisors, or those who guide others professionally that these skills are almost like second nature. Whether you are a coach to a player, therapist to a client/patient, manager to a direct report, trade master to an apprentice, or in a mentoring role to a protégé, you will perform your role with more success if you demonstrate a set of “people” or “soft” skills that typify those with the capability to nurture an other-oriented, growth-focused relationship.
Many of the core attributes of an effective mentor are captured in the concepts that define one’s emotional intelligence. Whereas the best mentors tend to be smart about the more technical elements and nuances of whatever it is that they do for a living, they also must show a different kind of intelligence: They need to be smart about what motivates others in a forward-aiming direction. They must have emotional radar that senses what their protégé is feeling, and what they too are feeling during the guidance process. To be an effective mentor, your EQ (level of emotional intelligence) needs to be at least as high as—if not higher than—your IQ (more academic or conceptual understanding–based smarts).
A wide range of research and literature exists about what motivates individuals to improve, learn more, and achieve more, and how to facilitate this process as an external resource. This is the fundamental context in which mentoring takes place. Certainly, a review of all this literature is well beyond the scope of this book. Much of it, in fact, is of very little assistance to someone interested in developing skills as a mentor. But we have chosen three principles of facilitating self-learning that are fundamental to implementing the helping role effectively:
Many of you may have studied behavioral sciences during your formal education, and if you did it is almost certain that you were exposed to the work of Abraham Maslow, who introduced a “Hierarchy of Needs” theory in the mid-20th century that still resonates today. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has helped reframe approaches to the management role, steering leaders away from a financially or threats-based motivational frameworks of leadership and toward a model that assumes that people work in order to gain personal fulfillment. Maslow’s model postulated that what people really want out of life, once they are not in a varying degree of “pure survival mode,” is self-actualization; that is, incremental growth toward attainment of the individual’s highest needs—those related to the meaning in life, in particular.
The context of self-actualization in mentoring rarely takes on the overarching topic of the meaning of life; more often, mentoring addresses the real-life issues of fulfillment in one’s work life, such as, “What is the meaning of what I do professionally?” Or “What impacts does my work have, on both those around me and the environment in which I practice, and how can I make these impacts better for all concerned?” or “What outcomes would make me feel most fulfilled in my work life?” In addressing these questions, the mentor and protégé discuss issues with a profound bearing on the focus of the protégé’s future efforts, driven by an understanding of what the protégé’s real objectives are in actualizing a meaningful professional career.
A leading management coach, John Whitmore, wrote that “what I am aware of empowers me, and what I am unaware of controls me.” For mentors, this statement has profound meaning in a wide variety of ways. When the mentor-protégé relationship uncovers a more evidence-based understanding of the protégé’s strengths and weaknesses, development plans can be devised to leverage protégés’ strengths and mitigate the impact of their weaknesses—or somehow find a way to improve on the weaknesses until they are not considered weaknesses any longer. But it takes courage and emotional will to explore one’s strengths and challenges. Mentors must engender an ongoing and open exploration of the protégé’s self-awareness, within the context that Whitmore advocates: personal and professional empowerment through increased self-knowledge, and the uncovering of blind spots that can diminish professional effectiveness.
Emotional self-awareness is of particular importance. Mentors need to be aware of their protégés’ and their own emotional “temperature” during mentoring interactions and throughout the tenure of the relationship. Emotional self-awareness is, in essence, knowing what you are feeling and why, as well as what others appear to be feeling, and why. If, for example, a mentor is aware of a feeling of personal frustration about an issue or interaction with a mentee, it is important to at least understand that emotion and why the feeling is evident at that particular point in time. What you do about this understanding can vary, from sharing it with the protégé (rarely a bad idea, since it is part of the reality of the moment, and enhances mutual awareness within the relationship) to causing additional discussions of alternatives because the one being enacted is creating frustration.
Similarly, effective mentors gauge emotional reactions from protégés to certain stimuli, such as a prodding question or discussion of a prior troublesome event. Mentors need to be comfortable reflecting the feelings of their protégés and owning up to their own while mentoring is underway.
One of Steven Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This advice needs to become the mentor’s mantra. The mentor role is typified by significant efforts to understand the protégé as a person and a professional far before lending any guidance or advice. Mentoring without seeking first to understand is not mentoring at all; it is facile advice-giving without context.
One mentor we know keeps Covey’s “seek first to understand, then to be understood” habit of highly successful people as a placard on his desk, so that when protégés are prone to ask, “So what do you think I should do?” he is able to point to the placard and reply, “I don’t think I know enough about what is going on yet. Let’s try to understand it all better.” Then he asks an open-ended probing question to elicit more information. This is the type of basic empathic behavior that facilitates mentoring, and yields more success in the relationship with a protégé.
Indeed, seeking first to understand before needing to be understood is a proxy for developing the skill of empathy. In 9 Powerful Practices of Really Great Bosses, a book we recently wrote to improve the people skills of managers, we defined empathy as “the capacity to understand and respond effectively to the unique experience of another.” Sounds applicable to the mentoring role, doesn’t it? But how does one become more naturally empathic, in order to build a base from which they can serve more effectively in the role of helper?
The following techniques all apply to those seeking to become useful to a protégé while serving in the role of mentor:
A set of three core skills—supporting self-actualization, self-awareness-building, and becoming more naturally empathic—serve as the underlying basis for implementing the nine mentoring techniques we will discuss later in the book. Without integrating, developing, and applying these skills to our model, you will not be able to achieve the level of success you no doubt were hoping to realize when you decided to learn more about effective mentoring techniques. To re-emphasize the important themes we have raised in this chapter, we advocate that:
Choosing a Business Name? Avoid These 6 Mistakes |A&C Accounting And Tax Services
Choosing a good name for your business isn’t easy. You want it to reflect your business’ personality and be catchy without being silly. Before you make your final decision, be sure you avoid these business naming mistakes.
A business name that is appealing and memorable can do wonders for a business’s bottom line. On the other hand, no matter how great a business is, an inappropriate or poorly-chosen name can have a negative impact on its success — especially when first starting out.
Some aspects of selecting a business name are subjective and reflect the personal wishes and preferences of the owner.
There are, however, some mistakes that business owners make in naming their establishments that just don’t make good business sense. Avoid these and you’ll be on the road to having a business name that will serve as a real asset and hopefully bring many profitable returns.
1. Getting stuck in alphabet soup
A business name that comes at the beginning of the alphabet can be a plus since many business listings are alphabetical; however, some businesses have taken this strategy to absurd levels. Phone book pages produce a staggering number of businesses starting with the letter A, a number of which are somewhat nonsensical: “AAAAA Locksmith” and “AAA Active Appliance.” Other than another word that starts with the letter A, what purpose does the word “Active” serve? Using A, B, or C as the first letter of your business name can help get you an A+ in profits, but be sure the name is something that makes sense and is something you can be proud of.
2. Using names that are too long, or difficult to understand, spell or pronounce
The idea is to get people to remember your business name and to be able to understand it, spell it and pronounce it. It should also be short enough to fit on a business card or display on a sign. I doubt the “Floccinaucinihilipilification Company” name would be easy to pass along by word-of-mouth or found readily in a phone book, directory or on the Net. It actually is a word that means “nonexistence” and that’s probably what would happen to any business using it as their name; namely, no longer exist.
3. Picking business names that limit business growth
Choose a business name that is wide-ranging enough to give your business growing room.
Geographic business names are popular; i.e., Hidden Springs Housecleaners. But what happens if your business takes off and you’d like to expand the geographic area you cover or even go national? Unless you’re sure you want to stay in one particular location, avoid using geography in your business name. The same goes for naming a business after one product or service: “Al’s Refrigerator Repair Service’s” name would need to change if Al decides to take on air-conditioner repair. Lastly, stay away from names that describe current fads or trends: When the new “Millennium Diner” opened in 1999, it sounded timely — six year later, it sounds dated.
4. Letting the grey areas get you discouraged or immobilized
A business name should be one or more of the following: memorable, descriptive, imaginative or distinctive. How to go about this is where the “experts” disagree.
A good way to start is to write down key words that describe what your business is and does, and what you pride yourself on. Use a dictionary and thesaurus to find different words that express these things. Also look for famous expressions that might pertain to your business.
So, let’s say “Mary” has a small business selling her delicious fruit tarts, and she considers herself to be the best at what she does. Mary names her business “Queen of Tarts” because: she loves the play on words, it expresses what her business is and does, and the word “queen” is perfect — she’s female and her thesaurus shows that “queen” also means “person of authority.”
The following techniques of naming businesses are ones that naming pros both love and hate, depending on which pro you speak to. Review the following “bones of contention.” It will be up to you to decide if any of these feel right for you and your business name. Keep in mind your target market, the key elements of your business and mission statement, and — above all — trust that feeling in your gut.
Alliteration: The repetition of the same sounds at the beginning of words
If your name is Cathy, and you’re selling collectibles, you could name your business “Cathy’s Collectibles.”
Coinage: The invention of new words
“Forever Nailz” salon and “ErgoGrip” pens
Descriptive Words: Words in a business name that convey immediately what your business does
“Frank’s Reliable Lawn Care” and “Commercial Cleaning Corp.”
Puns: A play on words
“Hair Force One” and “Shear Artistry” haircutting salons
5. Being an island
You’ve thought up 15 business names that are in the final running, and you think they’re all pretty good. Now is the time to get some feedback. Run those names by some close colleagues, family and friends. You might be surprised at the number of things they bring to your attention that you’ve overlooked. A little constructive objectivity goes a long way when choosing a business name.
6. Failing to check if your chosen business names belong to another business
Before settling on a final name, you’ll need to ensure that you won’t be violating someone else’s trademark rights to a particular business name. You want to avoid being forced to change your business name in the future and possibly paying money damages.
Here are some ways to avoid using a name that’s identical or confusingly similar to the one you want to use:
For a fee of at least a few hundred dollars, you can also hire a professional search firm to do a trademark search. Just the peace of mind alone that nothing has been overlooked can make this investment worth your while.
As far as naming your business, there are professional naming firms that will come up with a great name for your business, but costs can be prohibitive. David Burd, President of The Naming Company, quoted “$15,000 to $20,000” as a typical fee to have a professional team come up with a business name. For large corporations, Burd said, fees could easily go to “$50,000 to $60,000.”
Coming up with a business name isn’t particularly easy, but if you avoid these common mistakes — and invest some time and thoughtful effort — a great business name should be well within your grasp.